On the day you are born, four men across the street
hang the bones of a grown blue whale
from the ceiling, rib cage
a row of upside-down umbrella frames.
Years later you tug on your father’s wool coat,
pointing to the skeleton
the imagined spot of its giant tongue.
“It looks big enough to sleep in,” you say,
but he is reading about the distance
of whale calls and thinking about a woman who bit
his earlobe in a Seattle hotel.
A woman’s voice on the intercom announces that the new
William John Huggins prints are available in the gift shop.
You wonder what it would feel like to be swallowed.
The painting on the wall shows a man spearing
a whale, almost smiling.
After the rain
clouds tumble in when the guard shift switches.
He thinks of the miles and keeps repeating them,
In the painting it is the man who is smiling,
not the whale.
And it goes on like this forever:
you pointing, the tongue sleeping,
fog sneaking in.